November 9, 2019
‘The day the wall came down’: How The Post covered the Berlin Wall’s fall 30 years agoBreaking News
tags: Cold War, Communism, Germany, BERLIN WALL, EAST GERMANY, West Germany
Editor’s Note: Thirty years ago, East German officials abruptly announced it would open its border, ending 28 years of separation between East and West Berlin. Within hours, hundreds of revelers had gathered from either side of the wall to meet and celebrate. Though the wall would not be fully demolished for two more years, Nov. 9, 1989, became known as “the day the wall came down.” This story ran on the front page of The Washington Post the next morning.
EAST BERLIN, Nov. 9 — Communist East Germany today opened its borders to the West, including the Berlin Wall, announcing that its citizens could travel or emigrate freely, in the most stunning step since World War II toward ending the East-West division of Europe.
Confronted by a mounting political crisis that a top East German official said has placed the ruling Communist Party’s very existence at stake, the government said authorities had been instructed to grant permission without delay for people to journey abroad or leave the country.
“Today, the decision was taken that makes it possible for all citizens to leave the country through East German border crossing points,” media chief Guenter Schabowski told a news conference shortly before 7 p.m. (1 p.m. EST).
As word spread, hundreds of jubilant East Berliners poured into West Berlin on their first visits ever to the western half of the city, divided for 28 years by the 13-foot-high concrete wall that is the best-known landmark along the Iron Curtain.
On the western side, large crowds gathered at the wall, passing champagne bottles around to joyful fellow Berliners, whose city has been the site of tense confrontations between Soviet and American troops and life-and-death scenes of desperate East Germans trying to flee across the heavily fortified wall.
In an extraordinary sight near the Brandenburg Gate along the city’s dividing line, scores of young West and East Germans climbed to the top of the wall to greet each other and celebrate. Some used small hammers and chisels to chip away at the wall.